DU Looking to Spring Surprise as Frozen Four Underdog

Written By Ken Pomponio on 04/05/2022 - Last Updated on March 21, 2024

Colorado’s on-ice excellence isn’t just limited to the NHL-leading Avalanche.

The University of Denver hockey team is the midst of another banner season.

And it’s a season that will once again end in the Frozen Four.

Boston’s TD Garden is serving as this year’s host site.

The national semifinals will be contested Thursday. Winners advance to the national championship game, scheduled for 6 p.m. (MT) Saturday.

And for those looking to place a wager or two, Colorado’s online sportsbooks have you covered. Moneylines, puck lines and game totals are currently posted on the two semifinals as well as futures odds on the overall national champ.

DU draws top-seeded Michigan

Winners of the West Regional, Denver is the third-highest overall seed remaining in the 16-team NCAA Division I tournament.

But due to how the bracket falls, the Pioneers will take on top-seeded Michigan in Thursday’s first semifinal. The opening faceoff is set for 3 p.m. on ESPN2.

A pair of Minnesota school clash in Thursday’s second semifinal (6:30 p.m., ESPNU) as second-seeded Minnesota State takes on unseeded Minnesota.

The Golden Gophers upended third-seeded Western Michigan to win its regional title.

Only the top four teams are seeded entering the initial 16-team bracket. And the NCAA does not re-seed the Frozen Four field afterward.

DU (29-9-1) is a decided underdog against the Wolverines (31-9-1), winners of the Midwest Regional.

A quick survey of the odds at PlayColorado’s three top-rated online sportsbooks reveals as much.

Tuesday’s DU semifinal moneylines range from +130 (BetMGM Colorado Sportsbook) to +140 (Caesars’ Colorado Sportsbook). 

Pioneers backers can also bet the +1.5 puck line. But even at the best odds (-175 at DraftKings Colorado Sportsbook), you’ll still be paying a price to bet on DU keeping things close.

As for the tourney title odds, DraftKings and BetMGM offer the best DU payouts at +350.

Michigan is the clear DK favorite at +150, followed by Minnesota State (+275). Minnesota is the foursome’s Cinderella at +380.

Brink powers Pios to Boston

Denver tied North Dakota for the National Collegiate Hockey Conference regular-season title with an 18-6-0 record (53 points). 

The Pioneers were the No. 1 seed in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff postseason tournament. But they fell to fifth-seeded — and eventual tourney champ — Minnesota Duluth 2-0 in the semifinals in St. Paul, Minn.

Top-seeded DU got its revenge in the March 26 West Regional championship game at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland. 

After beating UMass Lowell 3-2 in the regional semis, the Pios downed Duluth 2-1 to punch their ticket to Boston.

Forward Bobby Brink leads the charge for DU, which paces Division I in scoring at 4.28 goals pet game.

The 20-year-old junior from Minnetonka, Minn., is pacing the nation with 56 points, including 42 assists. The NCHC Player of the Year is one of three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, awarded annually to the nation’s top collegiate player.

Brink is attempting to join Matt Carle (2006) and Will Butcher (2017) as the third DU player to win the award. The winner will be announced at a Frozen Four ceremony Friday.

Denver coach David Carle is also up for a national honor. Carle is one of eight finalists for the Spencer Penrose Award, given annually to the American Hockey Coaches Association Division I coach of the year.

The winner will be announced Wednesday.

David Carle, 32, is in his fourth season as the Pioneers’ coach. He is attempting to become the fifth DU coach to land the Penrose Award.

DU boasts rich Frozen Four history

Denver is no Frozen Four stranger.

The Pioneers, in fact, are making their 18th appearance in the NCAA semifinals. They have played in four of the last six Frozen Fours, dating back through 2016.

Only five other programs — Michigan (26 Frozen Fours), Boston College (25), Boston University (22), North Dakota (22) and Minnesota (22) — have appeared more often.

Michigan also leads the way with nine national championships. It’s been 24 years, though, since the Wolverines last finished on top in 1998.

DU and North Dakota are tied for second with eight titles apiece. Three of the Pioneers’ crowns have come in the in the last 19 years, with the most recent title in 2017.

Denver also has won two of its eight championships in Boston, celebrating in 1960 and 2004.

In the national semifinals, DU owns an all-time record of 11-6. 

Factoring in their eight titles, that means the Pioneers have a 8-3 championship game record.

In Denver’s most recent Frozen Four appearance in 2019, the Pios lost to UMass 4-3 in a double-overtime semifinal thriller.

As for its series vs. Michigan, DU owns an all-time record of 46-36-1. Their most recent meeting, though, came 20 years ago in 2002.

The Wolverines have won all three meetings in the NCAA tournament.

The most notable of those clashes was Michigan’s 6-3 victory in the 1964 national championship game in Denver.

Photo by AP / Stew Milne
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Ken Pomponio

Ken is a fourth-generation Coloradan and career sports journalist with more than 30 years covering the gamut from the preps to the pros. A lifelong Front Range resident and son of 1960s Denver Broncos season-ticket holders, he is a long-time sports betting enthusiast whose insight and passion shine through in his coverage at PlayColorado.

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